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Five Bahamian Businesses Receive Funding Through Royal Caribbean International’s Kickstarter Programme



#TheBahamas, December 20, 2022 – After eight-weeks of small business training, five innovative and creative entrepreneurs from Royal Caribbean International’s Kickstarter Programme were awarded funding following the first cohort’s final pitch competition.

The first group to go through the program focused on a wide range of tourism-based businesses, several of which are now set to shake up the way things are done within the local industry. From tour companies to rentals for travelers with young children, the ideas of the prize winners considered the many unique facets of Bahamian tourism.

One Big Nut, the startup that took home top prize is bringing fresh perspective to Nassau’s West Bay Street staple — coconut water — and making getting that healthy coconut water fix easier. Whether for sipping on its own or mixing in “gully wash”, fresh coconut water is much-loved, but not always easy to come by and worries about handling can overshadow the longing for a good gulp.

Co-founder Alex Holden said the company is bringing technology and tradition together, using state of the art equipment to hasten the process of extracting coconut water.

“At One Big Nut we are offering more than just coconut water. We are providing a safe, comfortable, and authentic cultural experience,” he said.

“You can sit down and sip while our friendly staff serves you. Our coconuts come pre-chilled, pre-drilled, and ready to drink, making them more refreshing and fun than any coconut water you could buy from the roadside or the food store.”

Crystal Campbell, director of business integration and destination development at Royal Caribbean International, helped judge the pitch competition. She said One Big Nut received the top prize after receiving the top score in all the judging categories, including innovation and impact, viability, sustainability, capacity, and overall presentation and delivery.

“Their concept reinvented the coconut vendor seen across the Bahamas,” said Campbell.

“They not only sought to create sustainable kiosks that are fun and inviting, but also simplify the process for the vendors with advanced equipment.”

Holden said he didn’t expect to win the competition, but noted that the funding will help to buy machinery and build the “giant coconut” they will operate out of. But Holden noted that the program provided more value than just the funding opportunity.

“The one-on-one tutoring was one of the most valuable parts of the program,” he said.

“Also competing against talented Bahamians with great business ideas forces you to sharpen your skills. We would recommend every Bahamian entrepreneur sign up for the program — just bring your most creative idea and don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.”

The Kickstarter Programme, which is a collaborative effort with the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC), provides entrepreneurs with learning and funding opportunities to help start their businesses.

SBDC Executive Director Samantha Rolle thanked Royal Caribbean for its ongoing partnership.

“SBDC’s partnership with Royal Caribbean Group continues to be instrumental in curating entrepreneurial funding and training programs which open doors for a variety of Bahamian businesses in the tourism industry,” she said.

The program begins with an eight-week training boot camp and culminates with a pitch competition where competitors get the opportunity to win up to $15,000 in funding for their ventures.

Baha Moments, a bespoke tour company founded by D’Asante Small, was another one of the top performers in the recent pitch competition, taking the second-place position with a prize of $10,000 in funding.

Small said she developed the idea for her business in 2020.

“In the midst of the pandemic, I developed what I believe will be a catalyst to the transformation of our tourism industry in The Bahamas,” she said.

“I was inspired to reimagine the way Bahamians access the tourism industry and the way our visitors access Bahamian experiences.”

Small said Baha Moments focuses on curating unique experiences in collaboration with vendors to ensure customers enjoy their time while receiving local perspectives and an infusion of Bahamian culture.

She said she decided to participate in the Kickstarter Program to tap into the cruise industry directly to gain insight and industry feedback, given it is a target market for her company.

Small said the program was insightful, noting it helped her finetune elements of her business plan, website and marketing plan.

“The next step for us is our digital launch, which this seed money will assist to engage influencers and launch our digital ads,” she said.

The third-place prize of $7,500 in funding was won by Lignum Vitae, a Grand Bahama-based store specializing in locally produced goods.

Owner Ariel Ferree said the idea for the store was conceived to both highlight Bahamian creators and innovators while providing sustainable shopping solutions.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for people to embrace a more eco-conscious lifestyle without even knowing it, because one of the biggest things that we can do is sourcing as many things locally as we can,” she said.

Ferree said Lignum Vitae will carry products ranging from home decor to jewelry and fashion items to locally pressed oil and more.

“It’s going to be a market and deli so people can try some of the goods as well,” she said.

Ferree said that in addition to the funding opportunity, the Kickstarter program provided her with unique networking and learning opportunities.

“Through the program, I was able to connect with some of the people, from Grand Bahama specifically,” she said.

“…A lot of them are the makers and the growers and some people I’m working with to have some of their products in Lignum Vitae.”

Tishka Moss, the owner of Traveling Tots Rentals, said she also was drawn to the program because of the learning opportunities.

“It was the education aspect that drew me to apply to the boot camp,” she said.

Moss received a $5,000 prize to help fund her business, which was started earlier this year.

Traveling Tots Rentals provides rental cribs, highchairs, strollers, car seats and other equipment needed for traveling with young children.

“It was such a hassle traveling with my young sons, and I thought about all the tourists who come to Nassau with the same issue,” said Moss.

And while she already had a steady stream of rentals before the Kickstarter program, Moss said she plans to use the funds to upgrade her website to provide a more user-friendly experience.

For Misty Johnson, who owns AmaziTours, the $5000 loan prize is a stepping stone toward a big dream.

Johnson, who is based in Freeport, said ultimately, she wants to start an amphibious tour. But she knows getting there will take time and improvising.

“In order for us to get to that, we need to do something else to raise some money,” she said.

“So, we thought of barbecue boats, which is also a unique tour.”

She said the funding will help her begin the barbecue tours, which allow groups to tour the waters of Grand Bahama and wind up on the beach for a barbeque they will always remember on the barbeque boat. “I knew I wouldn’t have been able to secure an amphibious bike with the prize money, but it’s a start for us to get the barbecue boat,” Johnson said.

Johnson thanked Royal Caribbean for the opportunity to participate the program.

“This has provided not only the opportunity to launch AMaziTours, but it has also given me a wealth of knowledge,” she said.

“Without this course, I wouldn’t be able to confidently pursue opportunities afforded to small businesses like AMaziTours.”


Photo Caption:  Alex Holden, Theo McClain and Kowaski Lindley, owners of One Big Nut, won $15,000 in funding through the Royal Caribbean Kickstarter Programme.

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Bahamas News

FBI and Bahamas looking into woman’s death  



Dana Malcolm  

Staff Writer  



#TheBahamas, March 17, 2023 – The FBI is investigating a woman’s ‘suspicious’ death on a Carnival Cruise ship in February.  The unnamed woman and her husband boarded the Carnival Sunshine on February 27th, for a trip to the Bahamas, but she was dead before they arrived in the port in The Bahamas.

The FBI said Carnival’s team had administered life saving measures when the woman was reported unresponsive, but they were unsuccessful.  The body and the woman’s husband were released to the Bahamian authorities when the cruise arrived in the country.  

In a statement shared with US media houses, Carnival Cruises claimed the death has been a natural one.  The Nassau Guardian said a source told them the police findings had concurred with that assessment saying it was a “normal sudden death of a tourist who wasn’t feeling well.” 

The FBI was waiting for the cruise and when it got back to South Carolina on March 4th, they immediately boarded and began to investigate the room based on ‘evidence of a crime.’  The FBI also searched the couple’s car.   

No updates have been shared to contradict the currently established cause of death.   

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Bahamas News

Why Sargassum Matters



Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer 



#TheBahamas, March 17, 2023 – “If you don’t like it, go to another beach!” Is what Aaron John, an Education Officer from The Bahamas National Trust jokingly tells our news team about sargassum blooms; his quip, motivated by the necessity of nature when pit against the notion that there is a real threat when the stinky seaweed makes its annual appearance. 

John can admit, he says, that Sargassum isn’t very pretty but life isn’t all about aesthetics and in this instance that ugly patch serves a purpose. 

“We love our sandy beaches, but in order to keep them we need Sargassum. When storms come, they wash away all the sand off the beach but sargassum acts as a mulch to protect the sand from water erosion. It doesn’t look good, it doesn’t feel good but we need it.”

He said it also provides a habitat for small crustaceans, crabs, and insects that are all necessary to our ecosystem and islanders have  found use for the weed.

“Historically, (in The Bahamas) we have been using sargassum as fertilizer, especially in the family Islands as far back as I know,” he said. “Birds don’t go on the beach unless there is Sargassum and what do they do? they feed – it’s beautiful.” 

He encouraged residents to just leave it be if they came across it.

Sargassum isn’t harmful to humans, except for people with respiratory issues who may find the rotten egg smell triggers asthma. Despite this, it’s not advisable to walk through the weeds which may hide sharp rocks and bottles or vulnerable animals.

Experts say Sargassum blooms began to increase in size around 2011 and have continued to get bigger and bigger since. This year‘s bloom is around 5000 miles long and 300 miles wide and visible from space.

“I know it’s not a general outlook, but I would like to change the perspective on sargassum,” John said, pointing out The Bahamas National Trust is actively working to decrease alarm over the less worrisome events like sargassum as it raises the profile on the environmentally devastating. 

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Bahamas News

Lease agreement approved for diaspora office     



Dana Malcolm  

Staff Writer 



#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2023 – The Turks and Caicos’ Bahamas Diaspora Office is moving closer and closer to opening day, following the Cabinet’s approval for the signing of a lease agreement.  

The lease will be signed with FINCEN ltd in the Bahamas.  Several weeks ago, Arlington Musgrove, Minister of Immigration confirmed to our news team that the location had been found and was being finalized; now a lease is approved at the Cabinet level.  

The interest in the TCI from TC Bahamians was evident in the diaspora meetings held in early February.  The two meetings held in Nassau and Grand Bahama were completely full and over-subscribed by hundreds.  

It’s interest which the Government hopes will translate to real life population growth, bolstering the local population before the native population ‘goes extinct’.  

The Opposition PDM is on the record with what it feels is a far more viable solution to a dwindling native population; seek out the country’s own citizens and bring them back home. 

Cabinet did not state when the office will open. 

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